Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

SOCIAL   AND    POLITICAL    LIFE          l6g
chances at the official examinations for three years, and is good ground for the resignation of a cabinet minister.
Family ethics interferes even with our travel and sport, for the theory was developed in the Hsiaoking^ or Classic of Filial Piety (which every schoolboy used to memorize), that "the body, the hair and the skin are received from the parents and may not be injured.53 Tsengtse, the great disciple of Confucius, said on his deathbed, "Examine my hands, examine my feet," which had been kept intact to return to his forefathers. This already borders on a religious feeling. It limits our travels, for Confucius said, "A man does not travel to distant places when his parents are living, and if he does he must have a definite destination." The best form of travel, i.e., travel without destination and without hoping to arrive anywhere, is therefore theoretically impossible. The filial son "does not climb high, and does not tread on dangerous places.'5 There is therefore not a single filial son in the Alpine Club.
In short, the family system is the negation of individualism itself, and it holds a man back, as the reins of the jockey hold back the dashing Arabian horse. Sometimes the jockey is good, and then he helps the horse ^to win the race, but sometimes he is not so good. Sometimes it is not a jockey that is holding the horse back but merely a refuse cart. But then, Chinese society has no use for fine Arabian thoroughbreds, the best proof of which is that we have not produced them. We murder them, assassinate them, hound them into the mountains, or send them into the asylum. We want only steady, plodding draught horses. And we get plenty of them.
The Doctrine of Social Status, as Confucianism has been popularly called, is the social philosophy behind the family system. It is the doctrine that makes for social order in China. It is the principle of social structure and social control at the same time. The principal idea is status, or mingfen, which gives every man and woman a definite place in society. In conformity with the humanist ideal of "everything in its place," the social ideal is also that of "every man in his place." Ming means "name," and fen means "duty." Confucianism is actually known as mingchiao, or "religion of names." A name is a title that gives a man his definite status in any society and